The Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has made its 2008 awards to some of the world’s largest corporations. “The HIV/AIDS winners include Viacom (leadership); Standard Bank (workplace); Telkom, (testing and counseling); Intesa Sanpaolo (community philanthropy); BBC World Service Trust (core competence); Xstrata Coal South Africa (community initiative); Johnson & Johnson (women & girls). BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) receives the tuberculosis award and Exxon Mobil Corporation receives the malaria award.” DHL and Novartis have also received commendations for their malaria work. According to the Kaiser Network, “The coalition is a group of 220 companies worldwide that aim to address HIV, TB and malaria in the workplace.”
In its press release GBC President and CEO emphasized that, “‘The prospects for winning the fight against global epidemics are stronger now than ever before, and these nine companies have shown the world what is possible for business to achieve. Business action is making a critical difference. If we get it right – and our partners are depending on us to do just that – business has the power to reach millions of people in a way that no other organization can. It possesses the skills, resources and influence to achieve otherwise inconceivable outcomes. We need many, many more to make their own contribution.” Contributions range from worker health promotion, to community programs to advocacy efforts to stimulate policy and funding of disease control programs.
Ironically, at about the same time, the biggest coordinated source of finance for the three diseases has decried funding gaps on the horizon. Reuters reported that, “The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria requires another $7 billion to $8 billion to reach its funding goals for 2008, the fund’s executive director, Michel Kazatchkine, said on Monday. ‘The estimated gap, again, this year is around $7 to $8 billion. It is going to increase to $10 to $12 billion in the next two to three years,’ Kazatchkine told reporters at a briefing.”
Governments remain the largest contributors to international efforts like the Global Fund. The business world, as evidenced by the GBC awards, offers hope through innovation and example, but the question remains, can the business community offer more with its “skills, resources and influence” to help close these huge funding gaps?